Quality and durability are also important things to consider when comparing vegan and real leather. Vegan leather is often a lot thinner than real leather and much more light weight which is great for fashion as it makes it potentially easier to work with, however it also makes it less durable than real leather. A real, good quality leather can last decades when cared for, whereas you might only get a year or so out of a pair of shoes made from good quality faux leather. This is an important factor when deciding between fake leather and real leather as the environmental impact of replacing a fake leather product multiple times is arguably more damaging than the purchase of one real leather item.
Synthetic leathers also wear out very unattractively whereas real leather ages over time and forms a patina, which is considered to add character to leather.
Faux leather, especially PVC based, isn’t breathable either where as real leather has pores through which skin is able to breathe. So for clothing items such as jackets, vegan leather can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time.
In addition to environmental factors, faux leather is typically a lot cheaper than real leather products. This is because it’s cheaper to produce synthetic plastic leather than it is to produce real leather. The craftsmanship of leather products is a highly skilled job and bespoke leather products such as sofas, jackets and luggage can be thousands of dollars. Manufacturers are able to command these prices because they are considered both high quality and highly durable.
As vegan leather is made with a plastic coating, it is already waterproof. This makes it easier to clean by using a mild detergent or just by wiping it with a damp cloth, however it also means that conditioning products can’t penetrate it to stop it from drying up and cracking, which can happen if the fake leather is in the sun a lot and also if it’s a particularly poor quality material. However, you can get certain products, which will cover the surface of the plastic to prevent high temperatures and sun rays from cracking the surface. Such products can also help to soften the material.
You can replace or patch up the damaged area with a faux leather repair kit that can be bought online - they’re easy to use and suited to different types of faux leather.
Vegan leather can come in different standards of quality and as with real leather, the higher the quality, the longer it will last. Faux leather is generally a lot cheaper and of a lower quality to real leather, even at a high standard. Vegan leather is ultimately much less durable than real leather and tends to be thinner so it’s not uncommon for it to tear or scuff badly over time.
It is important that you do not try to iron wrinkled vegan leather by putting the iron directly onto the material. The method you should use to remove wrinkles depends on the quality of the material – because synthetic 'pleathers' have plastic in them, they do not mix well with heat and it can often ruin the product completely. High quality faux leathers can be steamed to remove wrinkles if protected with a sheet, towel or lining as they are much more forgiving against heat however there still should be a lot of care taken when doing this. It is important that you don’t heat your fake leather for more than 30 seconds.
Faux leather does stretch, but not as much as real leather. You need to be careful when trying to stretch fake leather because it increases the risk of it cracking, so it’s best to avoid it all together.
Trying to distress faux leather will more often than not result in damaging the item. Most people tend to create a distressed affect on faux leather using thin layers of acrylic/fabric paints – thick layers can result in the vegan leather cracking and peeling the top layer entirely. Be sure to use paints/dyes suitable for the material, as solvents often eat away at pleather.